For HR leaders, the concept of employee experience (EX) is always top-of-mind, but with today’s employees quitting and changing their jobs at record-high rates, it’s become more apparent than ever that the employee experience matters.
Studies show that 90% of organizations with transformative EX are more likely to report lower annual turnover than industry peers. And the opposite is also true: a negative employee experience drives talent out the door.
Similar to other HR functions, the nature of working with people is dynamic and subject to change depending on the wants and needs of employees of a specific generation, industry or even individual company. This means that EX strategies which may have been sufficient for meeting employee expectations a few years ago are entirely outdated now.
Let’s discuss best practices for EX for the modern workplace, covering recruitment through to exit.
What is employee experience?
Before we dive into strategy, let’s begin with a quick refresher on the meaning of employee experience:
Employee experience refers to an employee’s perceptions about their journey with a company based on their experiences throughout the process. This can include anything — a simple, seamless job application process, a printer that’s always broken when you need it, an annual birthday cupcake from a manager or an insurance portal that requires three logins. All of these experiences set the tone for how an employee views their job and contribute to their sense of satisfaction, happiness and engagement.
EX can be influenced by interactions within every space of an organization, including these areas:
- Company culture
- Technology and workplace infrastructure
- Day-to-day tasks and role fulfillment
- Benefits and compensation
- Management and leadership
EX can also impact other aspects of organizational operation, such as customer experience. Employees with positive EX tend to report greater happiness and satisfaction with their jobs. And when an employee likes their job, it spills over in their interactions with customers.
How to develop an impactful employee experience strategy
Though day-to-day experiences inform EX, milestone events or periods of transition and growth usually have the greatest influence over an employee’s perceptions of their job. These touchpoints offer vital opportunities for shaping and enhancing employees’ views of your company.
An effective EX strategy requires aligning your efforts to hit all of these critical touchpoints across the employee life cycle. Let's break this down piece by piece.
The employee experience starts before someone is even hired. This includes all stages in the hiring process from applying to interviewing and negotiating a final offer.
Work with your recruitment team to improve the employee experience at this stage by:
- Using recruitment software that’s user-friendly and easy to navigate
- Making job postings detailed and clear
- Clearly outlining the interview process for the candidate, letting them know how many to expect, who’ll they’ll be interviewing with and how long the process is expected to take
- Designing your interview approach in a way that reflects the company culture
Onboarding is a formative period of time that can set the stage for how your organization is perceived for the duration of an employee’s tenure. An elevated EX at this stage involves:
- In-depth training and orientation delivered via easily accessible learning methods
- Regular check-ins between the new employee and their manager to assess progress at the 30-60-90 day marks
- Clearly established channels for new employees to ask questions — and a culture that encourages dialogue among managers and colleagues
- Conversations with new hires about career goals and professional development opportunities, teeing them up for growth and success from week one.
The opportunity for continuous development speaks to your company’s willingness to invest in its people. Review these best practices to see if they’re currently in use with your program:
- Take a personalized approach to learning and development (L&D) that supports individual employee upskilling and reskilling needs across teams and job functions
- Offer flexible, technology-based learning options that allow employees to take courses and access learning materials at their own convenience
- Invest in a strategic workforce education program with curated learning options that address your employees’ most pressing skills needs
- Train managers to foster the development of team members by motivating them to grow and guiding them in taking the next step in their careers
- Provide access to networking events and/or internal mentorship programs that encourage employees to build relationships
Retention represents another ongoing aspect of the employee life cycle and experience. Once an employee has been fully integrated into the organization, it’s typically in your company’s best interest to continue cultivating and engaging them to stay.
There are many retention strategies, but when you’re looking at retention through the lens of employee experience, these tactics are a good place to start:
- Provide ongoing employee education and skill building opportunities to equip team members with relevant and modern skills and competencies
- Update technology and other office infrastructure to support the latest industry standards and enhance the work environment
- Invite and listen to employee feedback, implementing changes when it’s feasible and communicating those changes to show employees that you're taking their feedback seriously
- Promote a working environment that is diverse, welcoming, equitable and inclusive
Exit and offboarding
Whether an employee is retiring, leaving for another opportunity or simply moving to a new department, the departure invites an opportunity to solicit candid feedback regarding all aspects of their experience working at your company. Make the offboarding experience seamless and part ways amicably. This last interaction influences how that employee views their time at your company, and they can promote your org to future potential employees.
Why prioritizing EX matters
A positive EX has a ripple effect through an organization, boosting engagement, profits, retention and satisfaction for employees and customers alike. Not keeping your finger on the pulse of EX is a costly proposition and can affect your bottom line substantially. At the same time, it can feel overwhelming to try to improve EX across the full employment life cycle. Especially when you don’t quite know what needs to be fixed.
For a more manageable approach, consider surveying employees to determine their biggest pain points in their journey. You may see large, systemic issues that require substantial investment and overhaul, but many companies are surprised to learn of the many small, easy fixes that can make sure a difference to employees’ quality of life. In either case, there’s always room for improvement with an EX program, and change is not always hard.
As you build your strategy, look to past programs to see what’s worked best and tap leaders who can help you spearhead improvements across the organization, offering them clear goals, autonomy for quick decisions and the resources they need to solve the issues.